Michigan-Oregon: Ducks Soar to Victory

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Michigan-Oregon: Ducks Soar to Victory
IconSo, it's come down to this.

Shortly after an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Oregon Ducks, Michigan running back Mike Hart guaranteed a victory over the Wolverines' next opponent: the 0-2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Just over a week ago, Michigan was considered a national title contender. How things have changed.

After a shocking loss to Appalachian State, the unthinkable happened on Saturday: The Wolverines played even worse in a 39-7 blowout loss to Oregon (2-0).

Employing a spread offense similar to those used by the Wolverines' last three opponents (all losses, dating back to last season), Oregon lit up the Wolverines defense from their opening drive.

In fact, the only time the Ducks didn't score in the first half was when they missed a field goal near the end of the first quarter.

The Ducks were led by backfield weapons Dennis Dixon, Jonathan Stewart, and Jeremiah Johnson, who combined for 568 total yards. QB Dixon notched 368 total yards and four touchdowns.

As if things weren't bad enough for Michigan, Hart, Chad Henne, and All-American offensive tackle Jake Long were all seen limping off the field at different points.

Those three offensive stars returned for their senior seasons with visions of a national championship, but that hope is all but lost.

Henne, who managed only 172 yards against a good Oregon secondary, is currently doubtful for the game against Notre Dame. Hart ran for 127 yards, and Long returned later in the game, but this writer doubts that even every all-time Michigan offensive All-American could have made up for the Wolverines' putrid defense.

If Wolverine fans want a silver lining, they can at least take heart in the experience gained by QB Ryan Mallett, Henne's heir apparent. The chemistry Mallet develops with 2008 Heisman candidate Mario Manningham (assuming he returns) could be key to the Wolverine's early success in 2008.

After such a disappointing start for the Maize and Blue in 2007, that may be the best anyone can hope for.
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